Man who saved 2.4 million babies by donating blood 'retires'

An 81-year-old Man Saved 2.4 Million Babies By Donating His Rare Blood

An 81-year-old Man Saved 2.4 Million Babies By Donating His Rare Blood

His blood has helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies.

James has just given his blood from his "golden arm" for the last time but the bittersweet moment is nothing short of a memorable for him.

Australian scientists realized they could stop these attacks from occurring by injecting Rh-negative mothers with anti-D immunoglobulin, which basically removes the Rh-positive blood cells from the fetus in the mother's blood stream before her body can attack them. The terrifying complications of HDN may include anemia, jaundice, heart failure, brain damage, and even death.

It only happens when the mother has rhesus-negative blood (RhD negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus-positive blood (RhD positive).

Blood donations saved his life, so he pledged to become a blood donor.

Harrison can no longer donate blood because Australia does not allow donors over the age of 81, but the 81-year-old has vowed to continue helping the medical field by donating samples of his DNA for research, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. If a mom and baby have Rh incompatibility, the mother's body will react to the baby's blood cells like they're foreign invaders, creating antibodies to attack and destroy them.

"Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time", says Falkenmire.

When he was 14, Harrison underwent a major chest surgery, receiving blood transfusions that saved his life, according to a statement published by Australian Red Cross Blood Service website.


Harrison was the program's first donor.

Harrison's blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease. His blood has been used to create anti-D in Australia since 1967.

"I'd keep going if they let me", Harrison told the Herald. It prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. However, an extraordinary Australian man deserves a lot more than that. Roughly 17 per cent of pregnant women receive Anti-D, including Harrison's own daughter. After 1,100 donations, the 81-year-old Australian man "retired" Friday.

The discovery of Harrison's antibodies was an absolute game changer, Australian officials said. "I didn't think about it any further, and then looking into it a bit more, I found out about James and how wonderful he is and how many donations he's made, and that it was all because of him". They realized they could administer Anti-D to mothers and save the babies.

"I don't think anyone will be able to do what he's done, but certainly we do need people to step into his shoes", she adds.

Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch.

That would be more than two million lives, according to the blood service, and for that Harrison is considered a national hero in Australia.

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